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Caraher Ambivalent Landscape 2010

Caraher Ambivalent Landscape 2010

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Published by billcaraher
This is a conference paper entitled "The Ambivalent Landscape of Christian Corinth: The Archaeology of Place, Theology, and Politics in a Late Antique City".
This is a conference paper entitled "The Ambivalent Landscape of Christian Corinth: The Archaeology of Place, Theology, and Politics in a Late Antique City".

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Published by: billcaraher on Sep 28, 2010
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 WORKING DRAFT. DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHOR’S PERMISSION. © 2010 W. Caraher 
1
The Ambivalent Landscape of Christian CorinthThe Archaeology of Place, Theology, and Politics in a Late Antique City Delivered at Corinth in Constrast: Studies in Inequality September 30 – October 2, 2010University of Texas at Austin© 2010 William CaraherIntroductionIn keeping with the theme of this conference, “Corinth in contrast”, my paper seeks to sketch the relationship between Corinthian residents andimperial authority over the course of the 6
th
century. The political,economic, and ecclesiastical position of Corinth during the middle decadesof this century created an environment susceptible to multiple competing and contrasting messages. The city itself represented a porous and vulnerable liminal zone between the more prosperous east and thepolitically less stable west, stood amidst conflicting political andecclesiastical jurisdictions during significant shifts in the nature of imperial authority, and endured an apparently systematic campaign of external investment by the ambitious and expansionistic emperorJustinian who sought not only to expand imperial power institutionally, but symbolically as well.This paper argues that the archaeological evidence for imperialinvolvement in the Corinthia created the material and political conditionsfor what J. Elsner has called “internal friction” in the physicalmanifestations of imperial and Corinthian authority in the landscape.These tensions characterized the subtle evidence for resistance both within imperial policies and toward them.
1
As recent scholarship on so-called Romanization and other forms of ancient cultural change hasshown, the process of reception plays a key role in defining therelationship between local and imperial authority.
2
Just as the receptionof even the most consistently produced ideological messages isundoubtedly individualized, social status, relationships to the mode andmeans of production, and ideological, political, and religious commitmentssurely form larger patterns in the creation of a lived, ancient landscape.Detecting the evidence for the reception of both local and imperial policiesin the 5
th
and 6
th
century Corinthia can contribute to how we understandthe increasingly monumentalized discourse of authority in the reign of 

1
Elsner,
Roman Eyes: Visuality and Subjectivity in Art and Text 
. (Princeton 2007), 255.
2
For useful summaries of this vast body of scholarship see: L. Revell,
Roman Imperialism and Local Identity 
. (Cambridge 2009); R. Hingley,
Globalizing Roman Culture: Unity,Diversity, and Empire 
. (London 2005).
 
 WORKING DRAFT. DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHOR’S PERMISSION. © 2010 W. Caraher 
2
Justinian.
3
Detecting evidence for resistance or accommodation in these buildings presents a significant challenge and will likely remain a speculative exercise.Nevertheless, this speculation can cast suggestive light on archaeologicaltraces of the tensions between the political authority of the East and thereligious authority of the West. These tensions played out all across theBalkans over the course of the 5
th
century in a series of ecclesiasticalcontroversies beginning with the Acacian schism which placed most of the bishops of Illyicum and Epirus at odds with the Patriarch and Emperor inConstantinople.
4
The resolution of his conflict in 519, shortly after theaccession of Justin I, marked only a momentary break in divisive politicsof Chalcedon. The ascendance of Justinian and his well-documented andambitious policies had a significant impact on the political and religiouslandscape of the empire, and Corinth did not escaped the impact of thesepolicies in its political position as the capital of Achaea and itsecclesiastical position as the seat of the powerful Bishop.
5
The location of Corinth - between East and West, imperial power and papal authority – leftfaint but discernable traces across the archaeological and humanlandscape leaving tantalizing hints of the potential for both resistance andaccommodation.My effort to excavate evidence for resistance in the Corinthian landscape will focus on three case studies. The first will consider the role of ecclesiastical architecture and authority in the Corinthian landscape. Thesecond will extend this discussion to secular architecture, and focus on theconstruction or renovation of local fortifications, and the impact that these building may have had both on the traditional indicators of the Late Romaneconomy and on the bodies of the Corinthians who undoubtedly contributed their labor to the monumental discourse of power in theregion. Finally, this paper will consider the theological aspect of theimperial presence in the landscape and argue that the internal frictions of 

3
V. Limberis, "Ecclesiastical Ambiguities: Corinth in the fourth and fifth centuries," in
Urban Religion in Roman Corinth: Interdisciplinary Approaches,
Daniel Schowalter andSteven Friesen, eds., in
Harvard Theological Studies 
53 (Cambridge, MA 2005), 443-457;C. Sotinel, “Autorité pontificale et pouvoir impérial sous le règne de Justinien: Le Pape Vigile,”
Mélange d’archéologie et d’histoire de l’École français de Rome 
104 (1992), 439-463; --, “Emperors and Popes in the Sixth Century: The Western View,” in
The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian 
. M. Maas ed. (Cambridge 2005), 267-290; C. Pietri,“La géographie de l’Illyricum ecclésiastique et ses relations avec l’Églize de Rome (Ve-VIesiècles),” in
Villes peuplement dan l’Illyricum protobyzanin 
(1984),
 
21-59
4
For the best discussion of the Acacian Schism in Greece see: P. Charanis,
Church and State in the Later Roman Empire: The Religious Policy of Anastasius I, 491-518 
, 2nd ed.(
Θεσσαλονίκη
:
Κέντρο
 
Βυζαντινών
 
Ερευνών
-
ΑΠΘ
, 1974).
5
R. M. Rothaus,
Corinth, the First city of Greece : an Urban History of Late Antique Cult and Religion 
. (Leiden 2000); T. A. Gritsopoulos, (1972).
Peloponnesiaka 
, 9 (1972), 77-84.
 
 WORKING DRAFT. DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHOR’S PERMISSION. © 2010 W. Caraher 
3
imperial policy manifested itself in these ambiguous texts and contributedto a genuinely ambivalent landscape.
The Church and the Christian Landscape 
[SLIDE]
The most obvious and, perhaps, best known buildings dating tothe 6
th
century are the series of Early Christian basilicas arrayed aroundthe city of Corinth and throughout the surrounding countryside.
6
Based onthe present state of our knowledge, these buildings appear to represent a single phase of large scale, monumental, “Early Christian” typearchitecture in the Corinthia. There is only scant evidence for earlier,Christian buildings and later, Early Byzantine, structures appeared eitheron a much smaller-scale or as simply the later phases of 6
th
century monuments.
7
 The size and architecture of the 6
th
century churches represents one of themore obvious characteristics of the 6
th
century Christian city and itsterritory. My paper today will consider the influence of just one these buildings: the opulent and distinctive architecture and decoration of theLechaion basilica.
8
 
[SLIDE]
The influence of this impressive building inthe architecture of nearly contemporary structures in the region presentsthe only evidence for the reception of this building by local residents of allkinds.
[SLIDE]
This is particularly significant because the work of G. Sandersand K. Slane have strongly suggested a mid to late 6
th
century date for this building, and most scholars have seen its extensive use of Proconnesianmarble, elaborately decorated column capitals and floor treatments, and vast size as an indication that it was an imperial foundation.
9
Thecombination of a mid to late 6
th
century date and opulent décor makes itimpossible not to see this building as part of Justinian’s larger building project both in the region and across the empire.

6
D. Pallas s.v. “Korinth”, in
Reallexicon zur Byzantinischen Kunst 
4. (Stuttgar 1990).For more recent summaries discussion see T. E. Gregory, “Religion and Society in theRoman Eastern Corinthia,” in
Corinth in Context: Comparative Studies on Religion and Society 
. S. J. Friesen, D. N. Schowalter, and J. C. Walters eds. (Leiden 2010), 433-476;G.D.R. Sanders, “Archaeological Evidence for Early Christianity and the End of HellenicReligion in Corinth,” in
Urban Religion in Roman Corinth: Interdisciplinary Approaches 
.D. N. Schowalter and S. J. Friesen eds. (Cambridge, Mass. 2005), 419-442.
7
The obvious examples of probably late 6
th
or early 7
th
century building in the Corinthia are the basilica on the temple hill and the small church on Acrocorinth.
8
D. Pallas, Pallas,
Les Monuments Paléochrétiens De Grèce Découverts De 1959 À 1973 
.(Vatican 1977), 165-171 for a brief summary; K. W Slane and G. D.R Sanders, “Corinth:Late Roman Horizons,”
Hesperia 
74 (2005): 243–297.
9
Sanders, “Archaeological Evidence,” 439.

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